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The see was founded in 1633 by King Charles I. William Forbes was consecrated in St. Giles' Cathedral as its first bishop on 23 January 1634 though he died later that year. The General Assembly of 1638 deposed Bishop David Lindsay and all the other bishops, so the next, George Wishart, was consecrated in 1662 after the Restoration. In 1690 it was Bishop Alexander Rose (1687-1720) whose unwelcome reply to King William III led to the disestablishment of the Scottish Episcopalians as Jacobite sympathisers, and it was he who led his congregation from St. Giles to a former wool store as their meeting house, on the site now occupied by Old Saint Paul's Church.
After the repeal of the penal laws in 1792 and the reuniting of Episcopal and ‘Qualified’ congregations, the Diocese grew under the leadership of Bishops Daniel Sandford, James Walker, C.H. Terrot and Henry Cotterill. The high point of the 19th Century was the consecration of St. Mary’s Cathedral in 1879.
The current Bishop is Brian Smith, who signs himself '+ Brian Edenburgen:'
- 1634 William Forbes
- 1634 David Lindsay
- 1662 George Wishart
- 1672 Alexander Young
- 1679 John Paterson
- 1687 Alexander Rose
- 1720 John Fullarton
- 1727 Arthur Millar
- 1727 Andrew Lumsden
- 1733 David Freebairn
- (1739-76) See vacant
- 1776 William Falconer
- 1787-1805: William Abernethy Drummond (c.1719-1809)
- 1806-1830: Daniel Sandford (1766-1830)
- 1830-1841: James Walker
- 1841-1872: Charles Hugh Terrot (1790-1872)
- 1872-1886: Henry Cotterill
- 1886-1910: John Dowden (1840-1910)
- 1910-1929: George Henry Somerset Walpole (1854-1929)
- 1929-1939: Harry Seymour Reid (d. 1943)
- 1939-1946: Ernest Denny Logie Danson (1880-1946)
- 1947-1961: Kenneth Charles Harman Warner (1891-1983)
- 1961-1975: Kenneth Moir Carey (1908-1979)
- 1975-1985: Alastair Iain Macdonald Haggart (1915-1998)
- 1986-2000: Richard Holloway (b.1933)
- 2001-present : Brian Arthur Smith